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How are VCs handling diligence in a world where deals open and close in days, not months?



The global venture capital market had a cracking start to the year. Coming off a 2020 high, VC totals in the United States, in Europe, and among competitive verticals like insurtech and AI are on pace to set new records in 2021.

The rapid-fire deal-making and trend of larger venture checks at higher valuations that The Exchange has tracked for some time require private-market investors to make decisions faster than ever. For venture capitalists, the timeline for reaching conviction around a startup’s thesis and executing due diligence has become compressed.

Some venture capitalists are turning to data to move more quickly. Some are spending more time preparing to be vetted themselves. And some investors are simply doing the work beforehand.

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We were tipped off to the concept of pre-diligence during the reporting process for a look into recent fundraising trends in the AI/ML space. Sapphire investor Jai Das, when asked about how he was handling a competitive and swiftly moving market for AI startup investments, said that “most firms are completing their due diligence way before the financing actually happens.”

How does that work in practice? Per Das, startups that raise quick Series A and B rounds are “tracked by [early-stage] investors as soon as they raise their seed financings. So there is no need to do any due diligence during the financing and hence most of these financings are pre-emptive.”

Venture capital: Now more about sales than ever before!

This morning, The Exchange is digging into the question of how VCs are handling diligence in a world where the most attractive deals can open and close faster than ever, and old models of deep diligence and paced deal-making are outmoded.

Getting to yes

One way that investors are betting on themselves in a bid to speed their diligence and decision-making is by investing in their own tech. That may sound obvious, given that venture capital dollars often land in the accounts of tech-focused companies, but in a business that was previously known for its relationship focus — more on that shortly — the trend is worth considering.

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